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Anderlecht 2-0 AZ: Purples reign in Brussels first leg

Michael Murillo and Majeed Ashimeru made the most of two great crosses as Anderlecht withstood pressure to see off AZ Alkmaar in the first leg of their Europa Conference League quarter-final.

Highlights: Anderlecht 2-0 AZ Alkmaar

Michael Murillo and Majeed Ashimeru struck in the UEFA Europa Conference League quarter-final first leg as Anderlecht calmly picked off AZ Alkmaar.

Key moments

22': Murillo heads in from Dreyer cross
: Dreyer blocks dangerous Beukema shot
64': Mijnans blasts wide for AZ
70': Ashimeru finishes low on the break

Match in brief: Anderlecht play it cool

Anderlecht celebrate going 2-0 up in Brussels
Anderlecht celebrate going 2-0 up in BrusselsBELGA MAG/AFP via Getty Images

Pressing high and running hard, AZ started the brighter in Brussels, but Brian Riemer's side refused to be intimidated and had carved out a couple of modest openings before Michael Murillo rose to head Anders Dreyer's ball from the right past Mathew Ryan on 22 minutes.

AZ forced their way back into the game but Anderlecht maintained their cool, with their 20-year-old Dutch goalkeeper Bart Verbruggen rarely troubled, and a steady stream of bookings underlining the visitors' frustration.

Anderlecht soaked up plenty of pressure after the interval, Dreyer and Jan Vertonghen both making important blocks before Sven Mijnans blazed wide the best of AZ's half-chances.

The hosts' composure showed again, however, as they broke up the left with 20 minutes to go. Francis Amuzu fed the ball in to Majeed Ashimeru, who steadied himself on the edge of the box before powering low past Ryan.

As it happened: Anderlecht 2-0 AZ

Alyssa Saliou, match reporter

AZ started both halves stronger but Anderlecht rarely looked flustered and made the best of sublime crosses from Dreyer and Amuzu, Murillo and Ashimeru the beneficiaries. Bart Verbruggen did not have much to do against his countrymen, but the Dutch goalkeeper looked supremely composed. He may be a sight busier next week.

Anderlecht celebrate victory in Brussels
Anderlecht celebrate victory in BrusselsBelga/AFP via Getty Images


Brian Riemer, Anderlecht coach: "There was no real celebration in the dressing room after the game, because we haven't earned that yet. If it was the other way around and we were in their position I would still believe everything is possible in the return match."

Jan Vertonghen, Anderlecht defender: "We didn't have our best match, but we did exactly what the coach asked of us and it worked. Before this match everyone would have settled for a 2-0 win. It's a good position to be in for the return match."

Bart Verbruggen, Anderlecht goalkeeper: "It was a team performance today and the result was well-earned. I'm happy I got to measure myself against a Dutch team too. I hadn't had the opportunity in my professional career so far, so I'm extra happy with this clean sheet."

Pascal Jansen, AZ Alkmaar coach: "It's a bit of a familiar story from recent games: creating opportunities, but not taking them. We were not alert when Anderlecht had two opportunities, and that's when you get hit on the nose."

Jordy Clasie, AZ Alkmaar midfielder: "We had a collective off day. Our passes weren't clean and we lacked creativity. But nothing is lost yet. We need to be focused in Alkmaar and maybe if we're at the top of our game we can change this situation around."

Majeed Ashimeru is congratulated by Michael Murillo
Majeed Ashimeru is congratulated by Michael MurilloBELGA MAG/AFP via Getty Images

Key stats

  • Anderlecht have lost only one of their last seven Europa Conference League matches (W4 D2).
  • The Purples have lost only two of their last 12 European home matches (W5 D5).
  • AZ have scored two or more goals in nine of their 12 European matches this season but drew a blank in Brussels.
  • AZ conceded more than once for only the second time in their 15 European matches this season.


Anderlecht: Verbruggen; Ndiaye, Vertonghen, Debast, Murillo; Refaelov (Arnstad 76), Ashimeru, Diawara (Kana 83), Dreyer; Slimani (Raman 67), Amuzu (Stroeykens 76)

AZ: Ryan; Sugawara, Beukema, Hatzidiakos, Kerkez; Clasie, Mijnans (Mihailovic 75), Reijnders; Odgaard (Karlsson 75), Pavlidis, Van Brederode (Lahdo 83)

What's next?

The second leg takes place in Alkmaar on Thursday 20 April. The aggregate winners play Gent or West Ham in the semi-finals on Thursday 11 and 18 May, playing the first leg away.

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